Australian Researchers Close To Finding Solution On Mending Broken Hearts

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Feb 15, 2016 11:00 AM EST

There is a growing rate of cardiovascular problems, which makes heart transplant even more popular. However, finding organs are challenging.

Once the organ is available, it needs to be handled properly for a successful transplant because once it is damaged it will no longer be beneficial. Australian researchers have found a way to solve the problem.

According to Brisbane Times, Australian scientists are on track to find a solution in mending broken hearts. Last year, 381 organs were available for transplantation. However, due to a range of issues including damages during transportation, only 81 could be used.

Professor John Fraser, who is from Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital Critical Care research group, revealed that donor hearts are stored and transported on ice. However, they do not receive constant oxygen supply, which is another reason they become damaged.

Fraser is hopeful that this problem will soon be resolved through an experimental Swedish machine donated to the hospital. The said equipment supplies the donor heart with enough oxygen during storage and transport while keeping it cold to reduce damage.

"In a country as vast as Australia, time is of the essence," Fraser said. "Using these innovative techniques hearts can be retrieved from vast distances."

Fraser also notes that, with the said machine, hearts will be efficient for transplant and they perform better. Aside from this, the said technology is also able to reboot hearts that are previously considered dead.

Many are hopeful that, with this device, the number of hearts available for transplant will increase by 40 percent.

The researchers, surgeons, engineers, and nurses from Prince Charles Hospital, Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney are set to join the research trial that will begin on Sunday.

According to Medline Plus, during transplant, the heart must be donated by someone who is brain-dead but is still on life support. The donor heart must closely match to the patient's tissue type to reduce the chances of the body to reject it.

During the operation, the patient will be put into a deep sleep with general anesthesia and a cut through the breastbone will be made.

A heart-lung bypass machine will be used to support the body while the surgeon works on the heart. The diseased heart will be removed and the donor heart will be stitched in place.

Once this is done, the heart-lung machine will be removed as the transplanted heart do its job of supplying the body with blood and oxygen. Tubes will be inserted to drain air, fluid and blood out of the chest and to allow the lung to fully re-expand.

This operation is usually performed during severe heart damage, heart failure, heart defects or life-threatening abnormal heartbeats.

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